Mezzanielli Lardiati (“A’ Lardiata”)
by Edoardo Notizia aka Masterchedo
Lardiata, in Neapolitan "a' lardiata", is a typical Neapolitan peasant cuisine dish that today still satisfies the refined palates of Neapolitans.
It appears that the origin of Mezzanelli Lardiati dates back to the 1700s, at a time when the noble Bourbons enjoyed rich dishes such as Timballo, Sartù di Riso, and Ragù alla Genovese, while the common Neapolitans consoled themselves with this delicious pasta course.
In Naples after World War I, extra virgin olive oil was considered a scarce and valuable commodity; hence the alternative was lard - 100% pork fat! Lardo di Colonnata (lard from Colonnata), the protagonist of this dish, is a cured meat native to the province of Massa Carrara with IGP (Protected Geographical Indication) certification, produced by curing the pig's fat in Carrara marble basins.
What you’ll need to serve 2:
50 gr of lard from Colonnata
200 gr of ziti spezzati or maccheroni lisci (pasta types)
A clove of garlic
250 gr of Piennolo vesuviano or San Marzano tomatoes
Sale and extra virgin olive oil to taste
50 gr of aged pecorino cheese
A handful of fresh basil
Begin by finely mincing the lard until it becomes creamy. Heat pan with two tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and sautee the lard with garlic clove. And then add the chilli.
Once the lard has dissolved, add the tomatoes (which can be substituted with peeled tomatoes) and cook over low heat for 15 minutes adding salt to taste. Set water to boil and once it is ready, add a few ladles to the sauce.
Add a dash of coarse salt to the pasta and drop them into the boiling water. Drain and continue cooking the pasta in the pan. The sauce helps retain the starch of the pasta for a creamier finish. Finish cooking by adding a ladleful of boiling water to the pan.
When the pasta is ready, turn off the heat and let it rest for 15 to 20 seconds in the pan. Add a generous grate of pecorino cheese, allow all the ingredients to come together, and serve with a drizzle of raw extra virgin olive oil and fresh basil leaves.